In case you didn’t know, a large group of young people organized online and at least partially inspired by protest in the Middle East have been protesting banking institutions for the past week in NYC.
Yesterday, their peaceful protest took a turn.
Dozens of demonstrators who have vowed to “occupy” Wall Street were arrested Saturday on the seventh day of a social media-fueled protest against U.S. banking institutions, according to protest organizers.
Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the protest group that doesn’t have an official name but has often been referred to as “Occupy Wall Street,” said that their monitors have recorded at least 85 arrests being made on Saturday, most in the Union Square area.
There were approximately 80 arrests, mainly for disorderly conduct by individuals who blocked vehicular and pedestrian traffic, but also for resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and, in one instance, for assault on a police officer, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
Mr. Bruner said the bulk of those arrests came around 2 p.m. The group planned a march from Union Square to the U.N. building. There was no permit for the march. Mr. Bruner said near 12th Street and University Avenue a large number of police officers converged on the group and used orange plastic nets to corral protesters who were then arrested. Protesters called this technique “kettling,” Mr. Bruner said.
“On our march from Union Square the cops proceeded to use nets to round up people,” said Austin Johnson, 24, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “They split the group into two. As far as I understood, they arrested everyone in the nets.”
Mr. Bruner said police used pepper spray on at least five people. He said another demonstrator was arrested because she refused to stop taking photographs of the arrests.
An NYPD spokesman said he could not immediately confirm Mr. Bruner’s accounts about the pepper spray or photographer arrests.
Hours later, Mr. Bruner said, one person who was arrested was sending out tweets through his Twitter account — @pulseofprotest — saying that he and other arrested protesters were still being driven around aimlessly in a police van.
On Saturday night, hundreds of protesters gathered in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. There was a table set up at the entrance to the park with a sign saying “we need your signature to stay here,” asking the protesters to sign a petition for “the rights of Americans to assemble and practice their rights to free speech and thought.”
At the park, Mr. Bruner said the protesters were attempting to decide what their next move would be. He said they were surrounded by a substantial amount of police officers.
We doubt this will go as far as similar protests in London or the Middle East, but it’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out.